Benito Juárez Community Academy's IN THE HEIGHTS Concert Set for Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 4/8
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST), Benito Juárez Community Academy and Latinos Progresando announced today a joint partnership to present a concert version of In the Heights at Juárez Performing Arts Center in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood on Monday, April 8 at 7 p.m. With the support of The Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Shakespeare is advancing its relationship with Pilsen and working to realize Benito Juárez Performing Arts Center's potential as a performing arts facility and community center for greater Pilsen. As part of this effort, CST is engaging a vibrant network of neighborhood partners, arts organizations, local artists and community members with an interest in theatrical performance to collaborate on the Latin-inspired musical In the Heights.
Infused with salsa, rap and hip hop, the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights follows the joys and heartbreaks of a tightly knit Latino community in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. In the Heights features music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, and was conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The partnership between Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Benito Juárez Community Academy and Latinos Progresando is focused on community: the concert's energetic score will be orchestrated by musicians from the Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater's Musical Ensemble and performed by members of the Pilsen and Little Village communities with diverse artistic backgrounds and experiences. Local artwork by muralist Pablo Serrano will also be featured in the show's publicity. Students from the Benito Juárez Visual and Performance Arts Academy and Teatro Americano-a Latinos Progresando program that empowers youth to perform stories that express their communities' worries, ambitions and successes-will assist in the production process. CST is contributing its expertise in producing, marketing and promoting theater.
The concert reading will be directed by Cecilie Keenan. Keenan has been active in the Chicago theater community for more than 20 years as a freelance director and producer, and is currently the Director of Arts Programming and Outreach at Latinos Progresando. Formerly, she was the producing director of Teatro Vista, where her directing credits included The Messenger (part of Goodman Theatre's Latino Theatre Festival), Dreamlandia, Another Part of the House and Living Out. Keenan also directed the Jeff Award-winning Tobacco Road at American Blues Theater and Joel Drake Johnson's The End of the Tour at 16th Street Theater in Berwyn. Additionally, she collaborated on El Nogalar, a co-production with Goodman Theatre and Teatro Vista. Keenan has been a frequent director and sometimes artistic and/or managing director at many Chicago theaters, including American Blues Theater, Apple Tree Theatre, American Theater Company, Bailiwick Chicago, Northlight Theatre and Collaboraction, where she directed the highly acclaimed The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow.
As part of Chicago Shakespeare Theater's relationship with the Pilsen community, CST is working to realize Benito Juárez Performing Arts Center's potential as a performing arts facility and community center for greater Pilsen. Last spring, CST presented a special performance of Short Shakespeare! The Taming of the Shrew at Benito Juárez Performing Arts Center, featuring Pilsen leaders Juan Carlos Ocón, Juan Soto and Álvaro R. Obregón alongside Benito Juárez Community Academy students. CST returned to Pilsen last summer as part of Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, presenting a performance, free for all, in Dvorak Park. Additionally, CST's education residency at Benito Juárez Community Academy provides individualized curriculum-based support to the high school. Working closely with Principal Ocón, members of CST's artistic and education staff are infusing theater arts into the school's curriculum through in-class and after-school student work, theatrical performances at both CST and Juárez Performing Arts Center, and professional development for teachers. Together CST and Benito Juárez Community Academy hope to demonstrate how great art crosses all barriers, illuminating our shared humanity.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a leading international theater company, known for vibrant productions that reflect Shakespeare's genius for intricate storytelling, musicality of language and depth of feeling for the human condition. Recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award, Chicago Shakespeare's work has been recognized internationally with three of London's prestigious Laurence Olivier Awards, and by the Chicago theater community with 70 Joseph Jefferson Awards for Artistic Excellence. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to producing extraordinary classic productions, new works and family fare; unlocking Shakespeare's work for educators and students; and serving as Chicago's cultural ambassador through its World's Stage Series.
Benito Juárez Community Academy is a premier neighborhood high school and a Center of Community located in the Pilsen neighborhood. Its mission is to establish a dynamic family of lifelong learners who strive to think critically, progressively, and globally, while engaged in the pursuit of personal and collective growth. Benito Juárez's Visual and Performance Arts Academy is a program that supports and develops students interested in pursuing Visual and Performing Arts careers, including Music, Drama, Technical Theatre, Studio Art, Graphic Arts, and Television Production. Benito Juárez's Performing Arts Center offers free and nominally charged performances and events year round featuring its talented high school students, as well as renowned fine art, musical and theater groups. Current artistic partners include: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Lyric Opera, Roosevelt University, Columbia College, Luna Negra Dance Theater, Chicago Sinfonietta, Music United, Fiesta del Sol, Sones de Mexico, The National Museum of Mexican Art, ChiArts, and the Chicago Children's Choir.
Latinos Progresando is committed to improving the lives of immigrants and their families, with a focus on the experience of Latino immigrants in Chicago. Centering its efforts in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods, Latinos Progresando provides direct low-cost legal services for immigrants, initiates community education and engagement projects, and organizes advocacy around policies that affect immigrants. Latinos Progresando's Community Arts Program connects community members to the arts so they can creatively explore the issues that affect their lives. As part of this program, Teatro Americano, the official theater company of Latinos Progresando, produces theater and theater education that is reflective and responsive to the community. Teatro Americano empowers youth to perform stories from their communities, spotlighting the experiences of contemporary immigrants and countering negative stereotypes of Latino youth and communities.